Archive for the 'Spending Less' Category

Frugal Tip: Top 4 Free PC Tools

Utilities and tools that promise to make your PC faster and virus free are a very big business.  You will see countless infomercials and popup ads trying to sell you some product to rid your machine of slowness and nasty viruses.  Unfortunately, most of these tools are not worth their cost, and are effectively somebody’s way of getting rich quick on the Internet.  The good news is that there high-quality free PC tools that can get you all the same benefits at a much better value.  The following are the tools I use to keep my computer, and the computers of my friends and family, running smoothly.  To make this list the tools need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be free
  • Be high-quality
  • Not have spyware, spam or other nonsense
  • Say what they do and do what they say
  • Be easy to use

Here are the Below Your Means Top 4 Free PC tools:

 

Anti-Virus:  Microsoft Security Essentials

Skill Level: Novice

If you are running a licensed Microsoft Windows PC, then Microsoft Security Essentials provides simple and solid virus protection.  Virus protection subscriptions are a cash cow for companies these days.  This is why you see so many virus products offered and also why companies will give away their software. They are willing to give it away this year, with the hope you will buy a subscription next year.  From Microsoft:

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home or small business PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and is automatically updated to protect your PC with the latest technology. Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.
Microsoft Security Essentials screenshot

You can get a link to download it from Microsoft here.

Tip: You only need one virus scanner, if you are going to use Microsoft Security Essentials, uninstall any other virus scanners you have.

 

Anti-Spyware: Microsoft Windows Defender

Skill Level: Novice

Just like Microsoft Security Essentials, Microsoft Windows Defender is free if you have a genuine copy of Microsoft Windows.  This tool detects and removes a continuously updated list of known spyware applications.  From Microsoft:

Windows Defender is software that helps protect your computer against pop-ups, slow performance, and security threats caused by spyware and other unwanted software by detecting and removing known spyware from your computer. Windows Defender features Real-Time Protection, a monitoring system that recommends actions against spyware when it’s detected, minimizes interruptions, and helps you stay productive.

Windows Defender screenshot

You can download it from Microsoft here.

 

System Cleaner: Piriform CCleaner

Skill Level: Novice to Intermediate

Piriform makes some of the cleanest and most straightforward PC utilities around.  Their products are well written and free.  Piriform CCleaner (originally this stood for “Crap Cleaner”) is one of the best PC tools out there, hands down.  This tool scans your machine and lets you remove unused files, temporary files, old cookies and browser history, log files and much, much more.  Note: this tool is free, however you can purchase Priority Support for $24.95.

CCleaner is the number-one tool for cleaning your Windows PC. It protects your privacy online and makes your computer faster and more secure. Easy to use and a small, fast download.

Ccleaner screen shot

You can download it from Piriform here.

Tip: When you install Piriform tools, you may be asked if you want to install a toolbar for your web browser.  I typically recommend against this as these tool bars tend to slow browsing down.  Removing excessive tool bars is usually the single easiest thing I do to fix my family’s computers.


Disk Defragment: Piriform Defraggler

Skill level: Intermediate

Piriform Defraggler is a high performance disk optimization tool.  It is better the than the defragment tool built into Microsoft Windows because it supports more advanced features such as a full visual drive map and the ability to moving frequently used files to the front of the disk drive for faster access.  Note: this tool is free, however you can purchase Priority Support for $24.95.

Use Defraggler to defrag your entire hard drive, or individual files – unique in the industry. This compact and portable Windows application supports NTFS and FAT32 file systems.

Defraggler screenshot

You can download it from Piriform here.

Tip: If you have a Solid State Drive (SSD) then you should not use defragmentation tools.  These tools may decrease the life of your drive.

There are plenty of other great free PC tools out there, but please be careful with ones you choose.  Many tools that claim to be free are riddled with ad or spy ware.

Below Your Means Basics: 10 Common Budgeting Pitfalls (and What to Do Instead)

Don't Let Your Budget Become a Train WreckWrapping up our “Back to Basics” this week, here are some common pitfalls that can sabotage your budget.

Pitfall #1: Building a Budget with No Purpose

If you start to build a budget and don’t have any clear goals, you’ll just feel like you climbed into a straightjacket for no reason.  Even if you manage to stick to the budget for 3 or 6 months, you’ll find that you aren’t really any closer to where you wanted to be.  Remember your budget is all about understanding your values and helping you know if a purchase is worth it to you.

Instead: Set clear goals. These can be tied to paying off credit cards, paying off your house or car, retiring by a certain age, taking a vacation, etc.  If you’re just getting your hands around your finances, go with the envelope method or use cash.

Pitfall #2:  Using Credit Cards to “Bust the Budget”

If you use credit cards on a regular basis, it is very easy to overspend.  In fact, credit card processors will tell their customers that they should accept credit cards because the average buyer will spend more if they are buying with a credit card than if they are buying with cash.  Cash helps remind you to make a value determination.

Instead:  Pay cash or track religiously. If you’re going to keep using your card, you need to update the balance in your processing system (we highly recommend something like Mint.com or an Intuit product like Quicken) frequently.  Probably every other day, or every third day.  Weekly is as far as I’d push it, but if you’re new to tracking your spending, I think you’ll be surprised how much your can run up in one week

Pitfall #3:  Budgeting Alone

If you don’t share your goals and values with your spouse, family, or close friends, you probably won’t get the support you need to stick with it.  It’s hard to be the only one trying to cut back or make changes.   “Let’s all go out to eat” can easily blow your budget if you don’t add “hmmm… that place is pretty pricey, I’d like to keep it under $20.  How about we go to this place instead?”

Instead:  Enlist the support of family & friends. I am always on a budget and never ashamed to say so.  It’s smart to live deliberately.  Be proud of it.  When you’re making decisions in a group it helps to set your boundaries.  Expect some teasing, hold your head high, and move on.

Pitfall #4:  Leaving No Room For Error

Stuff happens.  The dishwasher breaks, the furnace goes out, you get a chance to score some tickets to an awesome show, you start dating someone wonderful, you forgot your anniversary, your child sprains an ankle, whatever. You can’t budget down to the penny, so make sure there is room for the unexpected.

Instead:  Leave a percentage of your budget for the unexpected.  Exactly what percentage depends on your circumstances, but 5%-10% isn’t a bad place to start.  One way to get to the bottom of this number is to look at your credit card statements and see what surprises went on your cards every month.

Pitfall #5:  Budgeting Against Future Earnings

You may finish your budget and find out that you’re short.  It’s tempting to say to yourself that more money is coming — whether you are picking up extra shifts at work, counting on a bonus, counting on business picking up, or planning to take on a room-mate or odd jobs.  You can’t count on that kind of money until you are consistently earning it, and you don’t want to wind up in debt because you were counting on that money and it didn’t show up (or showed up much later than you expected it to).

Instead:  Budget based on your current income (or less). You can always revisit the budget if your income rises to a higher consistent level.  One bonus or one good sales quarter does not make a consistent increase, by the way.  Use those one-time or infrequent bumps in income to accelerate your savings or debt reduction goals.

Pitfall #6:  Getting Too Detailed

A budget that is too detailed is flawed in a few ways.  One, it’s too hard to keep it up.  If you are scrutinizing every receipt to split it into dozens of inter-related categories, or tracking a 50 cent purchase of bubble gum, you’re probably not going to have enough time to track your spending and compare it to your budget.  Two, it probably doesn’t help you make any decisions.  Does it really matter that you went over your “Groceries” budget by $50 and were under on your “Toiletries” budget by $30, or is it equally informative to know you were over on “Groceries & Toiletries” by $20?  Either way, you still need to get $20 more of value out of your current spending, or realize that the things you bought weren’t worth it, and cut back.

Instead:  Consolidate categories by how you make spending decisions. If you typically make all of your grocery and toiletry purchasing decisions over the same couple of stores, lump them all into one category.  If you go over, you’ll be able to scan the receipts and see why without needing to keep track of each category independently.  Corollary – if you consistently go over in a single category even after analyzing it, you may want to split it up into multiple categories to get a better view of what is happening.

Pitfall #7:  Confusing Your ‘Wants’ and Your ‘Needs’

I need my coffee or I’ll never get through the day!  I need my massage after dealing with the kids / my job!  I need my movie time or I’ll go crazy!  I need my housekeeper or the place will never be clean!  I need my BMW if I’m going to work at this job!  It’s very easy to rationalize your additional spending. And these don’t have to be big purchases, either.  You can easily spend an additional $30-$50 at the grocery store each visit because of things you ‘need’ or ‘deserve’.  Don’t make the luxuries of the past the necessities of today.  And don’t confuse the values of others with your own values.  If your job really requires you to spend money on things that aren’t worth their cost to you, then you may be in the wrong job.

Instead: Stop yourself and re-assess your goals and values. If you build your budget with a business mindset – looking at what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to get there – then you should be able to figure out where you can let go and what you truly need.  The motivation to stick with it will come from working towards achieving your passions.  All your habits that help you make it through the day at a crummy job will pale in comparison to watching your progress at saving up for a career change.  And many couples have, after a dispassionate review of the math, realized that their 2-income life was no more profitable than a 1-income life after all their job expenses were taken into account.  Now, if you’re working two careers that you love, that could be a good decision.  But if one of you hates your job, you’re wasting your time.

Pitfall #8:  Failing to Review

The budget doesn’t DO anything.  It doesn’t change your spending habits.  It doesn’t track itself (although good software certainly helps).  It doesn’t make you care about your goals.  It should give you the information you need to see how you are performing and what progress you are making against your short, medium and long term goals.  If you think that you can spend a weekend getting a budget in place and everything after will be magically wonderful, you are on your way to disappointment.  And, if you don’t include in your planning setting aside the time to review your work, you’re planning to fail.

Instead:  Set aside regular time to track your spending and review your progress. Depending on whether or not you are using the envelope system or credit cards and an electronic system, this can be as far apart as once a week and as often as every two to three days.  You need to get it on your calendar and stick with it.

Pitfall #9:  Failing to Cut Your Spending

So, you’ve decided that you only have $75 in spending money for the month.  The second rolls around, and you hit a coffee shop in the morning and go through $5.  Lunch is $8 because you didn’t bother to pack it.  Dinnertime rolls around and you stay late at the office (unavoidable) and wind up hitting the drive through on the way home, going through another $8.   Once home, you buy 4 songs on iTunes at 99 cents apiece because your day was so lousy and you want new music to listen to at work.  You’ve now spent 1/3rd of your $75, and you’re only 1/30th of the way through the month.

InsteadRealize where you are going to need to change your behavior, and start immediately. There are lots of sites out there (ours included) with ideas to help you through your problem areas.  In this case, cooking a big meal on Sunday and storing the leftovers (to cover dinner when there was no time to cook), making coffee at home, and packing a lunch in the morning (which could also be frozen leftovers) could have lowered that $21 in spending down to near zero.  And since you were happy with your budget progress, the iTunes purchase might have been more deliberate…. meaning either you spent the $4 because you really thought it was worth it, or you didn’t buy the songs (or bought less).

Pitfall #10 (For Couples):  Trying to Agree on Everything

Remember, your budget is an expression of where you think it’s valuable to spend your resources, and it’s pretty unlikely you will agree on everything. Don’t lose the whole budget because you can’t agree on all of it.

Instead: Make sure there is money that each of you can use independently, and set thresholds for group decisions. Your independent money is yours to use however you see fit.  And, if you’re within budget, you should be able to make small decisions alone.  Many couples use the $100 mark for joint discussions.

Pitfall #11 (Use Carefully!):  Leaving No Room For Fun

If you are building a budget expressly because you are in a valley of despair over the state of your debt, it can be easy to tell yourself “I’m not doing anything else fun until I have this crap paid off!”  But you’ll break that promise to yourself soon enough, whether it’s at the bar, in line at Starbuck’s, during lunchtime at the office, or with the kids at the toy store. HOWEVER, this is not a free pass to blow your budget or do whatever you want whenever you want to.  Your “room for fun” needs to come in the form of a budgeted amount that is realistic and within your means.  It does NOT mean that it’s OK to run up credit card debt or skip out on your savings goals (or worse, monthly bills) just because.  Remember this is ALL for “yourself”… the reward is not the latte next week, it is a lifetime of debt free living.

Instead:  Make sure you have some money for fun. Again, how much is really dependent on your personal circumstances and your goals.  If you’re not sure how to start, pick 3 or 4 things you do for fun on a regular basis, and make sure you have enough money to do them once or twice a month.  You may have to drop some expensive habits (have your friends over and make drinks there instead of heading to the bar, or have family movie nights on a rental with homemade popcorn instead of at the theater). 

Thumbnail Photo: Blocks 1 by Crissy Alright

Story Photo via Wikipedia


What principles do you follow when budgeting?  What problems have undone your efforts, and how have you gotten past them?

One’s Frugal Fail is Another’s Frugal Success

Confused?A tricky part of living below your means is knowing a good value when you see one.  Recently we ran a Frugal Fail about McDonald’s $1 Sweet Tea, and how buying drinks out daily was a great way to spend a lot of money on something that didn’t have much worth.  Of course, just a few weeks earlier, we had posted that McDonald’s $1 sodas were a good value relative to buying a soda at a convenience store.

What gives?  Are we hypocrites?  Contradicting ourselves?

Not really.  Our philosophy is that money is a tool that one uses to achieve happiness, and you have to know what makes you happy in order to use it properly.  Otherwise, living within a budget is just a grind.  In other words, something is only a good value if it is worth it TO YOU.

If 95% of the time you don’t spend a lot of money on drinks, then the $1 McDonald’s soda is a pretty good deal, especially if you compare it to the $1.69 to $2.99 that you’re going to pay in a convenience store.  The $3-$4 drink at coffee shop with a few friends on a Saturday afternoon is a great way to spend some time in a pleasant atmosphere (especially if you consider the number of hours of enjoyment you are getting from the experience).  But if you’re spending that kind of money most days on drinks — especially the kind you bring back to your desk and hardly notice that you’re drinking — then it’s likely you’ve gone from spending your money on something that makes you truly happy, and paying an awful lot of money to avoid brewing your own coffee or tea and putting it in a thermos in the morning, or remembering to grab a soda out of the fridge to drink later in the day.

Now, there is also the argument to be made that you are paying for convenience.  Understanding the value of convenience is a great subject for living richly, and we’ll be exploring that question next week.

 

Photo Credit: San Drino

I just sold my PS3 – here’s why

Back in February 2008, when the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD war was finally over I went out and bought a Sony Playstation 3 (PS3).  I didn’t buy it for the games; I bought it because at the time the PS3 was the cheapest and best Blu-Ray player around.  In fact, in the last 3+ years we haven’t played a single game on it… we only used it for DVD, Blu-Ray and Netflix movies.

My reasons for selling now:

  • The unit was 3+ years old – Systems with moving parts like fans and hard drives are more prone to failure
  • It used a lot of power (see table below)
  • PlayStation 4 is probably coming out late next year and resale value of the PS3 is going to drop
  • I was able to sell it for a fair price of $165 or about 42% of my original purchase price
  • The PS3 requires a Bluetooth remote and thus was the only thing that wouldn’t work with my universal remote.
  • Based on my families movie watching it cost us approximately $7-$10 a year to run the PS3.
  • The PS3 was a bit noisy and could be heard slightly when watching movies.

PS3 Power Consumption

With the $165 I got from selling my PS3 on Craig’s List, I purchased a new Panasonic DMP-BDT110 Wi-Fi Ready 3D/2D Blu-ray Disc Player.  This new player cost me approximately $135 including tax and shipping.  The result is that I now have a player that does everything I need, since I don’t use my PS3 for games.  I got this particular player because of its price and exceptionally low power consumption.  I also do not believe in paying a lot of money for “fancy” digital players.  The key components inside a $300 Blu-Ray player are basically the same as that of a $100 player… the difference is in the bells and whistles (Wi-Fi, styling) and, since it is all digital, the resulting picture and sound is identical.

 

 

Benefits of the switch:

  • I have an extra $30 in my pocket
  • I have a brand new player that will easily last another 3 years
  • The new player uses 97% less power in standby and 92% less power when playing a movie.  This will save approximately $6.75-$9.75 a year in power.
  • The new player uses IR and thus is compatible with my universal remote
  • The new player is entirely silent and has no fans
  • I got a “free” copy of Avatar
  • The depreciation of the new player will probably be on par with that of the PS3 I just sold – so this is a wash

If you are interested, the player I got is available at the following Amazon for a pretty good price: Panasonic DMP-BDT110 Wi-Fi Ready 3D/2D Blu-ray Disc Player

Note: If you have one of the original PS3s from 2006 or 2007, the amount of power that system is using may be significant.  These models typically use between 180 and 200 watts of power when on.  Newer “slim” models only use about 60 watts.

By Stock.Xchng #1223567

Coupons, with a Side of Obsession and Fraud

Coupon Crazy

Extreme Couponing is on the rise. TLC even has a TV show about it:

For those in the mood for a great review and entertaining rant about TLC’s Extreme Couponing, I recommend this post over at Scratchbomb.com: Extreme Couponing Induces Extreme Vomiting.  Matthew makes excellent points and I agree almost everything he has to say.  I particularly agree with the following:

  1. There is virtually no such thing as a coupon for decent food. There are no coupons for “bananas” or “organic chicken” or “fresh vegetables”. These extreme couponers are stocking up almost exclusively on packaged or frozen food, loaded with preservatives, salt, hormones, and a billion other horrible things. It’s all Franken-food, the absolute worst shit imaginable. Not a lot of salad in these people’s shopping carts, but a whole lot of things stuffed with cheese and/or skewered on sticks.
  2. The goal for most of these people appears to be not feeding/supplying their families, but accumulating the most stuff for as little money as possible, then shoving those things into every corner of their house, then building more corners in their house into which things can be stuffed. The line between “extreme couponer” and “hoarder” is extremely thin–if such a line exists.

Unfortunately, like many fast growing national obsessions, Extreme Couponing has its cases of scams and frauds.  Frugal Confessions has a interesting article on how relatively widespread coupon fraud has become.

Once I began researching, I was very surprised to find the problem is more widespread and costly than just a few consumers getting away with free products. Just in the month of May 2011 there were 25 counterfeit coupons posted on the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) website with various rewards being offered from the manufacturing companies for the successful prosecution of individuals responsible for producing the counterfeit coupon.

For those that are new to being frugal at the grocery store, consider reading: 5 Sneaky Price Tricks Your Grocer Doesn’t Want You To Know.

Before you start going crazy with the coupons, you might want to consider Extreme Couponing? 5 Reasons Why I’ll Pass.  Here Paul, explains 5 big issues with the practice.  Of his five reasons, 3 out of the 5 have to do with time:

1. It’s a Full-Time Commitment

3. You Become a Slave to Coupons

4. You Spend Hours at the Grocery Store

I use coupons all the time, but I take a basic time/value equation into account when I do.  For example, if I spend 2 minutes finding a coupon that can save me $3 off something I was going to buy anyway, this is effectively like earning $90 an hour.  Or perhaps I spend 20 minutes digging for a 10% off coupon for a on a major purchase — if this saves me $150 off a $1000 purchase, my effective hourly rate is now $450 an hour.  It works for small purchases too.  For example, Redbox always has codes available at sites like Inside Redbox; here it will literally take less than 60 seconds to find a coupon that could save you a $1.  This works out to $60 an hour, which is definitely worth the time.

So please, go find those discounts, but don’t make it your full time job or obsession and be sure you make a time/value calculation when you do it.  Perhaps your time is better spend learning something new or working to get a promotion or better career or maybe even spending more time with your family.

 

Photo Credit: Dmdonahoo

 

What are Best Buy Reward Zone Points Worth?

One article we seem to get a lot interest in was our post on what My Coke Reward Points are worth.  Having recently gone to Best Buy, I figured it would be good to do a similar post on the value of Best Buy Reward Zone points.

The way the program works is straight forward:

  1. Join the program
  2. Earn 1 point per dollar spent at Best Buy
  3. Cash in the points for Best Buy certificates
  4. If you spend over $2500 a year, you get Premier Silver status and earn 1.25 points per dollar

The conversation ratio is presented in the following table:

Reward Zone point value

As you can see in the chart above, Best Buy Reward Zone points are worth about $0.02 a point, which means you are getting “2% cash back”.  This is actually decent, especially when compared to other points that are typical worth 1/2 of that at $0.01 per point.  In addition, when you combine this with a rewards credit card it is possible to get “3 to 5% cash back” when shopping at Best Buy.   While this may sound like a great deal, you should consider you are getting this “cash back” on prices that may not actually be that great of a price.

From my experience, prices at Best Buy tend to be 5 to 15% higher than they are online, even when including shipping.  The same is true when compared to club stores like Sam’s Club and Costco or discount retailers like Video Only.  This is not always the case, Best Buy sale prices usually match or beat some online retailers.  But, when Best Buy’s sale price matches online pricing, and you include the Reward Zone points, you may actually be able to get a good deal.

Pros:

  • Points are worth about $0.02 each (effectively 2% cash back)
  • Silver status lets you earn 1.25 points per dollar (effectively 2.5% cash back)
  • No need to carry the card, just use your phone number
  • Free and easy to sign up
  • The Reward Zone Gamer’s Club provides 500 bonus points per $150 spent (effectively 6%+ cash back)

Cons:

  • Points must be spent at Best Buy
  • You must spend at least $250 to reach the minimum cash back payout
  • Reward certificates are non-transferable
  • Points expire annually (unless you are Premier Silver, or use the Best Buy credit card)
  • Best Buy prices are, ironically, usually not the best buy available
  • Hassle of worrying about points

In conclusion, I believe Best Buy Reward Zone points are a great way to maximize the value you get when shopping at Best Buy.   If you spend more than $250 a year at Best Buy, you would be silly to not spend 30 seconds and sign up.  However, going out of your way to earn Reward Zone points, or earning Reward Zone points at other retails or with a Best Buy credit card is probably a waste of time.  Even though the points are worth $0.02 each, you have to use them at Best Buy and the higher price you pay over other retailers will probably negate the benefit.  However, if you can catch a good sale at Best Buy, negotiate a good price, or take advantage of a price match… it could be worth looking into.

One final thought.  The 6%+ on video games is actually a decent deal.  With this program you earn your base Reward Zone Points as well as get a bonus 500 points for every $150 spent.  The result of this looks something like this:

Of course, buying new video games at full price is hardly frugal living… I prefer to take advantage of pre-order sales (typically 10 to 15% off) or buy the game a few months after release.

 

Southwest Airlines fares not the lowest anymore

 

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on the dramatic increase in Southwest Airlines airfares over the last 5 years.  The big headline statistic is:

Southwest’s average ticket price has jumped 39% in the past five years, while the average ticket price for domestic trips for the industry was up 10%, according to the Department of Transportation.

In a spot check of 24 markets for travel over the Fourth of July weekend, Southwest had the lowest prices in only 11.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737That’s a big increase.  Percentages can be confusing though and since Southwest’s fares started out much lower, there are still many routes where Southwest is the cheapest option.  This is most likely true if you live near a Southwest hub airport like BWI, LAS, MDW, PHX or HOU.   Southwest Airlines made headlines in the past for its aggressive use of fuel hedges.  When fuel and oil prices skyrocketed, Southwest enjoyed must lower price fuel than other airlines.  They used this advantage to expand their business as the “low fare leader”.  Unfortunately, hedge contracts don’t last for ever and the article points out that many of those advantages are now gone:

The end of the fuel hedges made the biggest change in pricing, however. For many years Southwest’s fuel costs were significantly lower than rival airlines because Chief Executive Gary Kelly decided when prices were low before the U.S. invasion of Iraq to pre-purchase fuel and buy hedges against higher prices.

I, personally, have never flown Southwest.  This is mainly due to the fact they don’t serve Seattle anywhere near as well as Alaska Airlines does and that they do not offer First Class seating.  When I used to be a very frequent traveler, the ability to get free upgrades to First Class was enough to steer me clear of the airline.  Their frequent flyer program is also pretty limited and only gets you flights and rewards on Southwest, as someone that likes to save my miles for big international flights, this is a non-starter.

If getting the lowest fare is your priority, and you have always assumed Southwest had the best rate, shopping around a little bit may now make more sense.  Of course, be sure to compare apples-to-apples, the articles points out:

One major reason Southwest prices can seem higher than competitors, he noted, is because Southwest doesn’t charge fees to check baggage or penalties to change tickets. Check one bag for $25 each way and a Southwest ticket that is $50 higher than another airline may, in fact, cost the same.

More information is available at the source.

Can’t Call Southwest a Discount Airline These Days | The Wall Street Journal